PROMISCUITIES: Tacopina "bullied" Carroll, she said!


A look at the Wallace rules: As we noted yesterday afternoon, Diogenes is widely said to have conducted a search—a search for one honest man (sic).

As we further noted, House Democrats may soon be conducting a search for at least five!

In Walker Percy's first novel, The Moviegoer, Binx Bolling is explicitly said to be conducting a somewhat different search. The leading authority on the widely acclaimed novel offers a bit of background:

The Moviegoer tells the story of Jack "Binx" Bolling, a young stock-broker in postwar New Orleans. The decline of tradition in the Southern United States, the problems of his family and his traumatic experiences in the Korean War have left him alienated from his own life. He daydreams constantly, has trouble engaging in lasting relationships, and finds more meaning and immediacy in cinema and literature than in his own routine life.

The loose plot of the novel follows the Moviegoer himself, Binx Bolling, in desperate need of spiritual redemption. At Mardi Gras, he breaks out of his caged everyday life and launches himself on a journey, a quest, in a "search" for God. 

That too is a type of a search, and the term is explicitly used. The leading authority quotes this passage from the novel, with Bolling serving as narrator:

"What is the nature of the search?" you ask. Really it is very simple; at least for a fellow like me. So simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life.

Diogenes conducted one type of search. Binx Bolling conducted another.

Over the weekend, we conducted a time-wasting search of our own. We conducted a highly tedious, time-wasting search for the truth about certain factual matters.

The exciting claims in question had been advanced by Joe Scarborough last Friday morning, April 28. He'd advanced his (highly familiar) claims in a series of screeds as two sidekicks, four more guests and his silent co-host looked on.

We wasted a lot of time last weekend as we conducted our search. That said, we've been involved in such wastes of time for something like three decades now. In this case, the search concerned these claims:

On Thursday, April 27, did defense attorney Joe Tacopina "scream and yell" at E. Jean Carroll, "time and time again," to the point where Judge Lewis Kaplan "repeatedly had to call him off?"

Presumably, it would have been wrong if Tacopina had done that. But did those things actually happen?

In the course of our timewasting search, we found no source which said any such thing. For example, in that morning's Washington Post, three reporters said this:

JACOBS ET AL (4/28/23): During sometimes fraught cross-examination on Thursday, Tacopina quizzed Carroll about her account, including her inability to remember the specific date the alleged attack occurred or why she called a friend afterward, rather than the police.

Carroll and Tacopina verbally sparred at times during his questioning, which lasted about three hours. She appeared to grow irritated at some moments, including when the attorney asked why Carroll did not scream when Trump allegedly assaulted her.

“One of the reasons women don’t come forward is because they’re always asked, ‘Why didn’t you scream?’” Carroll said. “Some women scream, some women don’t. It keeps women silent.”

After more back-and-forth with Tacopina, Carroll responded with audible frustration: “He raped me whether I screamed or not!”

The pair had "verbally sparred at times." That said, there was no mention of screaming and yelling. That passage was about as far as the Post's report went. 

In the corresponding news report in the New York Times, the exchanges between Tacopina and Carroll were said to have been "curt but civil." In the corresponding reports by the Associated Press and by NBC News itself, there was no mention of the screaming and yelling which were said to have occasioned the judge's frequent rebukes.

We shopped elsewhere, looking for evidence. We found no reports of the screaming and yelling which had Joe so upset.

We wasted a lot of time last weekend conducting this tedious search. That said, we've repeatedly had our time burned away in this manner since early 1998. 

In effect, we've been conducting a search for one or more reliable journalists. Diogenes, come on down!

We feel sure that Nicolle Wallace is a good, decent person off-camera. We're forced to say that we don't regard her, on balance, as a reliable "cable news" journalist.

As an example of what we mean, let's recall what she said in June 2019, back when the world was still young.

On the Deadline: White House program in question, Wallace made a factual statement which, on its face, seemed to be flatly inaccurate, or at least highly misleading. 

("Robert Mueller found that Donald Trump committed crimes, that he committed ten acts of obstruction of justice.")

In fact, the Mueller Report had explicitly said this: "This report does not conclude that the President committed a crime." Repeatedly, Wallace would make the one highly pleasing statement while failing to mention the other.

Breaking every rule in the book, Vance now seemed to challenge what Wallace just said! This is never done on cable, but Vance may not have known that. 

Amazingly, Vance challenged Wallace's statement. Below, you see Wallace's somewhat jumbled rejoinder:

WALLACE (6/19/19): I'm going to say something that is going to keep me off Twitter for a week.

When Democrats lose elections, this is why. I mean, what Joyce just said, I'm sure, is accurate. [Robert Mueller] didn't find ten—

But the opposite of "I can't say crimes weren't committed" is, to a political communicator, "Crimes were committed." And if Democrats don't have the you-know-whats to assert that and let people, let the president's lawyers, go out and say, "Well, he found ten instances where the nexus between an occurrence and a proceeding were not exactly met, but—"

I mean, let Trump explain that a crime wasn't committed in the obstruction section!

For a fuller account of the matter at hand, you can just click here. That said, this is what Wallace had basically said:

Instantly, Wallace had agreed with what Vance had said. Instantly, she said she was sure that Vance's statement was accurate.

That said, so what? As "a political communicator," she seemed to say that she preferred to make statements which aren't accurate, thereby forcing her opponent to spend their time denying the inaccurate claims. 

In these ways, Wallace had served George W. Bush for years, miring us in a war in Iraq and promoting gay marriage bans.

For the record, many people in our blue tribe agree with Wallace's general view. They say it's OK to fight fire with fire in the way she outlined. 

Who cares if our statements are incorrect? In this view, we Democrats lose elections when we make accurate statements!

People can judge this matter as they choose, but we don't regard Wallace as a reliable narrator. In our view, her thumbs are routinely on the scales—and though she's always been a brilliant spokesperson, she simply isn't all that great as an analyst. 

In our view, she tends to play it fast and loose. Consider what happened on Deadline: White House last Friday afternoon.

So typical! The Washington Post's Shayna Jacobs appeared as a guest on the show. Jacobs had been the lead reporter in the Washington Post's report that very morning. (See excerpt above.) 

Jacobs had been in the courtroom the day before, amid all the screaming and yelling. Having said that, so typical!

As Wallace interviewed Jacobs, she asked no questions about Tacopina's demeanor or behavior. Then, with Jacobs safely dispatched, she engaged in this instant exchange with one of MSNBC's legal analysts:

WALLACE (4/28/23): Barbara McQuade, I want to bring you in. And I want to ask you: 

What is the strategy when someone like Joe Tacopina is acting so combative with a victim who's alleging that she's been raped by his client? Why do that? It seems like a surefire way to engender sympathy from the jury and also suggest that there's not much else there if the strategy is to bully her on the stand.

MCQUADE: Yeah. I think this goes against everything I've ever been taught as a lawyer, which is not to revictimize a victim. Not only might it be ineffective, but the jury's going to hate you...

Wallace hadn't been present in the courtroom the previous day. McQuade was reporting from her home site in Michigan. 

Even worse, legal analyst Lisa Rubin had told Wallace on the previous day that Tacopina had been "gentler" than anyone expected in his cross-examination of Carroll. Statements like Rubin's do very little to advance preferred Storyline. 

Shayna Jacobs had been present in the courtroom the previous day. Wallace could have sought her assessment of Tacopina's behavior.

Instead, she waited till Jacobs was gone, then offered her own characterization of the conduct she hadn't observed. She said that Tacopina had "acted so combative" as he "bullied" Carroll—and as is the reliable norm on cable TV, McQuade quickly seemed to agree.

Following Wallace's lead, McQuade said that Tacopina had "revictimized a victim." Of course, this assumes the accuracy of the very claim which Tacopina's client denies.

Briefly, can we talk? As Tacopina said in his opening statement, it's the position of his client that E. Jean Carroll isn't a victim—that she's just making it up.

That doesn't seem very likely to us. For starters, Tacopina's client is, at least in our view, one of the least reliable sources in public life today. 

(Tens of millions of people disagree with that general view. Some such people may be on the jury in the ongoing trial.)

In our view, Carroll and her two corroborating witnesses are much more reliable than is Donald J. Trump. That said, there's also the miserable way our tribe's cable channel now delivers the news—presenting the scripts and Storylines we like, while failing to offer real discourse.

Back in 2019, Joyce Vance seemed to fall into line! One week after Wallace's rebuke, she appeared on a different MSNBC show—and now, she was making the factual claim she had challenged just one week before!

This is the way the game is now played. We don't think it's helpful or constructive, though some people disagree.

Diogenes searched for one honest man (sic). House Dems need to find at least five.

At this site, we've conducted a series of time-wasting searches since March 1998. Tomorrow, let us briefly entertain you with two of the most gong-worthy confessions we've ever seen on TV.

I'm sure that's accurate, Wallace once said. But why would I want to say so?

Tomorrow: Tomorrow, we have comic relief.

Comically, Phang and Vance confess. Also, though, the road to the future not taken.


  1. Somerby can nitpick the language as much as he wants, but there is a consensus that it is bad technique for a defense attorney to appear to bully the person claiming to be a victim of sexual assault. It create sympathy for the victim among the jurors. This isn't about whether Joe Scarborough was correct when he referred to screaming, or whether Rubin is correct when she refers to bullying the witness. It is about the effect on the jurors. Many attorneys have stated in various venues that Tacopina's defense of Trump was inappropriate, some attributing that to Trump's demands.

    Somerby wants this to hinge on whether Tacopina screamed. He wants to say that the judge didn't intervene and ask Tacopina to move on and stop engaging in argumentative and repetitive questioning. But that is contrary to the facts too. One can argue about how much repetition is acceptable and whether the judge should have admonished Tacopina, but the fact remains that he was repeatedly admonished. Tacopina himself made that the basis of his request for a mistrial.

    Making Carroll appear to be bullied and revictimized (to the point where she became irritable and yelled her repeated claim that screaming was irrelevant to whether she was raped) is being called a bad tactic, one that most attorneys would avoid under these circumstances.

    Somerby wishes us to consider Wallace and Scarborough to be bad cable hosts because he disagrees with their reporting. He goes back so far to find examples that he makes his own argument less credible. I don't care whether Tacopina's booming voice constituted screaming or merely badgering. Those are subjective terms for what he was clearly doing -- the judge affirmed it by admonishing him. Raising one's voice is what is being referred to, clearly, and Tacopina did do that.

    Why is Somerby working so hard to excuse Tacopina from what is being considered bullying tactics? Does Somerby think this is the right way to defend Trump? Somerby is distracting attention from the fact that Tacopina presented no evidence to undermine Carroll's credibility, that he had nothing to defend Trump with. Even Trump's own deposition was used as evidence by Carroll's attorneys, not to help Trump's case. Impugning Scarborough and Wallace won't save Trump from a guilty verdict on the merits of the case. Tacopina is presenting no defense witnesses, no case. While Trump is off vacationing in Scotland, perhaps hoping the royals will relent and invite him to their party.

    Somerby is on the wrong side of this case. He is defending a rapist by attacking those who have commented on his ineffective defense. Somerby instead points out that Tacopina cannot revictimize someone who isn't a victim to begin with. The problem with the assumption of innocence is that Trump said, with his own mouth, that he grabs women by the pussy because they let him do it, because he is a celebrity, and Trump has been accused of the same pattern of behavior (he just starts kissing them -- as they put it, he shoves his tongue down their mouths unexpectedly) by 25 other women. And this is likely the tip of an iceberg, since (like Carroll) many women may not wish to come forward and receive the abuse Trump heaps on women who do. Bullying and attacking women for telling their story, much as he does to any woman he dislikes. Much as Tacopina has been doing, and Trump is now returning to the US for closing arguments, so that he can make sure Tacopina gets tough enough with Carroll.

    Few people believe Trump is innocent. There is too much evidence from Trump himself that he probably did what he is accused of doing. What is wrong with Somerby that he will not listen to Carroll, but instead is working hard to exonerate Tacopina from the accusation of bullying her?

  2. The second amendment is evil.

  3. Somerby claims it is likely that Trump is guilty, but then he says:

    "In our view, Carroll and her two corroborating witnesses are much more reliable than is Donald J. Trump. That said, there's also the miserable way our tribe's cable channel now delivers the news—presenting the scripts and Storylines we like, while failing to offer real discourse."

    For myself, I like to hear news that is closer to the truth. I don't care about whether Tacopina was yelling merely speaking in a booming voice. I care about what was said and done at the trial, and no one is disputing the facts of what Tacopina, Carroll and Judge Kaplan said. Somerby is disputing adjectives, not substance.

    If Carroll is reliable and Trump is guilty, then Tacopina's version is further from the truth, a false narrative that he is advancing to defend Trump. When those cable news people are telling us news that is closer to the truth than Somerby or Tacopina or Trump, they are doing their jobs, not telling us pleasing scripts.

  4. Neither Carroll nor Tacopina screamed.

    1. And that’s Bob’s point. The news misleads.

    2. Scarborough isn’t a news reporter.

    3. Somerby’s point is to con suckers like you by getting you to think it matters how Scarborough described Tacopina’s behavior.

      As it turns out, although it does not matter, it seems like Scarborough’s description is more accurate than what Somerby wants you to believe.

  5. The difficulty for Tacopina is that he has nothing to work with to defend Trump. All he can do is badger Carroll, because he has no evidence to poke holes in her statements. The judge recognizes that and that is why he admonished Tacopina repeatedly. Somerby refuses to accept that those admonishments were unusual, as claimed by various legal experts. Why? Even if Somerby has claimed that Trump is unreliable, he nevertheless supports Tacopina against criticism of his tactics. Again, why? And Somerby refuses to accept that Carroll is likely a rape victims and thus doesn't deserve to be revictimized. Somerby instead thinks Trump has the right to abuse her on the stand, in the absence of a credible defense. Again, why? Does a guilty man with no defense deserve to abuse those accusing him? This is why the jury will not look kindly on Tacopina's tactics, and why a defense attorney behaving that way generally will lose his case. Trump's own belligerance toward Carroll has already created sympathy among the public, those who are not die-hard Trump supporters. Pundits are saying that even Trump followers know he is guilty but don't care (or admire him for his rapes). If Trump has not convinced even his own people, why is Somerby going to the mat for him, and why does Somerby insist that Carroll should be mistreated on the stand, even if Trump is unreliable and likely to be lying? Trump is not testifying, so he will not have to answer for his actions.

    1. Those kind of admonishments are NOT unusual. Judges are always telling the advocates to leave it for the summation.

      You ever been in a courtroom? Bob’s point too is that these well-paid TV pundits are not at all reliable.

    2. They are better than Somerby.

    3. Apparently some rape trial experts are saying that the Judge’s reactions to Tacopina are unusual due to Tacopina’s unusual tactics.

  6. "PROMISCUITIES: Tacopina "bullied" Carroll, she said!"

    The word promiscuity is inappropriate in the context of a rape trial. It appears that Somerby is trying to imply that Carroll was promiscuous, as a defense of Trump's behavior. That is not permitted in testimony, but the right wing has been smearing Carroll with this claim. Is it an accident that Somerby has repeated it everyday here?

    Also, I suspect that the word "she" in this sentence does not refer to Carroll but to Wallace or someone else in the essay. Instead Somerby's wording puts words in Carroll's mouth that I don't believe she has said.

    This word promiscuity does not refer to Joe or Mika or Rubin or Wallace or any other journalist.

    Promiscuous definition: "having or involving many sexual partners"

    1. He’s referring to the loose-lipped pundits, braintrust.

    2. It is still the wrong word — and you don’t know what he is referring to without being a mindreader.

    3. It is an odd (and new) choice of word considering the topic (and considering Somerby’s usually skeptical stance toward rape accusers), it is reasonable to conclude Somerby is using it to hint at a blame the victim narrative.

  7. "I'm sure that's accurate, Wallace once said. But why would I want to say so?"

    Yes, this means that accuracy is not the only consideration in reporting. Because this sentence is ripped from whatever context it appeared in, we have no idea why Wallace said it or what she was referring to.

    For example, it is possible that someone said something untrue about an innocent person. The fact that the untrue thing was said by someone might be fully accurate, but is it a good idea to repeat that unverified statement on air or in print? If I say that so-and-so accused Trump of being a space alien, the statement "so-and-so today accused Trump of being an alien" would be accurate, but should it be reported? That depends on other considerations beyond the accuracy of so-and-so having said this about Trump.

    Somerby has stripped Wallace's statement of context because he merely wants to portray Wallace as unconcerned about accuracy and not a good journalist. In other words, he is trying to smear her, not arrive at any truth about her abilities as a journalist.

    1. Ten-year-old Katie Hopkins copied another student's homework and put her own name on it.

      This may be an accurate statement, but why would a journalist want to report it on the nightly news? Katie is not famous, she is a child, and why would the news want to embarrass her in public? What is newsworthy about the fact of what she did? What purpose would be served by reporting it?

      Do journalists have no right to exercise journalistic judgment? It may be true that Queen Elizabeth was overweight in her final years. Why would Wallace want to say so?

    2. You morons have become parodies of yourselves.

  8. Republicans should support statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

  9. "In the corresponding news report in the New York Times, the exchanges between Tacopina and Carroll were said to have been "curt but civil."

    Somerby is being dishonest here. The original sentence said that the exchanges between Carroll and Tacopina were curt but civil. This means that Carroll was curt but civil to Tacopina, not vice versa.

    Somerby has reversed the names, placing Tacopina's name first, to make it appear that Tacopina was curt but civil to Carroll, which is not what happened, based on accounts of those who were there, and based on the admonishments to Tacopina by Judge Kaplan, about being argumentative and repetitive to Carroll in his questioning of her.

    1. Here is the actual quote that Somerby paraphrased inaccurately:

      "During the cross-examination on Thursday, tensions ebbed and flowed. Ms. Carroll’s interactions with Mr. Tacopina were curt but civil, with occasional flashes of irritation and anger."

    2. This is contained in the same NY Times article:

      "At times during the cross-examination, Mr. Tacopina’s approach led to admonishments from the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court. “Come on, Mr. Tacopina,” the judge said at one point, later repeating that the lawyer’s questions were “argumentative.”

      Another time Judge Kaplan told Mr. Tacopina, “You get to make a closing argument in this case, counselor, and this isn’t the time for it.”

  10. Somerby refers to Wallace admonishing Vance and then Vance saying something different a week later, but Somerby doesn't say what the conversation was about and offers no link. We get no sense of what Wallace said or what Vance said at all. This is not evidence of anything and it makes Somerby's rant very confusing.

    Apparently we are supposed to use these vague and incomplete allusions to take Somerby's word that Vance and Wallace are both bad journalists or something. Just going through the motions while adopting a negative tone isn't very convincing, especially given that Somerby defends someone like Trump, even while admitting that his word is unreliable. I'm not going to dislike or stop watching Wallace simply because Somerby dislikes her or because she supported the Iraq war decades ago (at a time when even Obama and HIllary were giving Bush the benefit of the doubt).

    1. It is confusing.

      1. On the Deadline: White House program on 6/19/19, Wallace made a factual statement which, on its face, seemed to be flatly inaccurate, or at least highly misleading. ("Robert Mueller found that Donald Trump committed crimes, that he committed ten acts of obstruction of justice.")

      In fact, the Mueller Report had explicitly said this: "This report does not conclude that the President committed a crime."

      2. Vance challenged what Wallace said on the show by saying. "I would maybe take issue with the notion that Mueller found ten instances of obstruction. "

      3. Wallace then said "what Joyce just said, I'm sure, is accurate. (which directly contradicted the claim she just made, as did the Mueller Report itself.)

      4. Then on 7/1/19 Vance contradicted her accurate rejoinder to Wallace (and the Mueller Report itself) by saying "the findings of his report will be a pretty spectacular piece of progress for Democrats, and nothing for Republicans to look forward to, given the conclusion of the report that the president committed obstruction. Vance was "making the factual claim she had challenged just one week before!" which Somerby claims to feel is not helpful or constructive.

    2. Mueller’s statement that there was no crime is the problem — it was not factual but political.

    3. If Mueller lied or not is not relevant to the substance of the discussion.

    4. The substance is a technicality, as usual.

    5. People often get the Mueller obstruction issue wrong. Maybe that's because of misstatements like Wallace made.

      People often also claim Manafort was indicted for crimes that had to do with Trump and Russia, which is not true. A lot of that probably has to do with the poor reporting we are discussing here today.

    6. No, it has to do with what these criminals did as opposed to what they were charged with.

    7. Thank you for providing your opinion about Republican corruption, Mueller's investigation, and the consequences of the Trump administration's policies towards Russia. Unfortunately, there isn't sufficient evidence to support most of your claims!

      If we want moronic Republican corruption apologists not to squawk “hoax”, one place to start may be to not make false claims about it as Wallace did back in 2019 ... and many people still do, falsely claiming Manafort was indicted for crimes that had to do with Trump and Russia etc.

      Why make false claims or claims that are not supported by evidence if we are concerned about being labeled hoaxers? Doesn't make sense.

    8. Good thing Manafort decided not to be a rat, as Trump said. And he was well rewarded soon after with a full presidential pardon. Funny how that helps keep witnesses' mouths shut. Any idiot who likes to run around squealing "hoax", is working on a different agenda.

    9. The substance of the issue we are discussing is our that side crossing the line and making claims that are not supported by evidence and sometimes untrue contribute to any theories about hoaxes. So why self own like this? It doesn't make any sense at all. Wallace knew what she said was untrue but didn't care. That seems really sloppy and undisciplined to me.

    10. 10:48, yes I agree, that is why I object to people calling the Russia - trump campaign investigation a hoax. It most certainly was not a hoax, there was ample pretext for the FBI to launch the investigation, which president chickenshit aborted.

  11. Bob claims Trumps defenders do not find him unreliable. This is questionable, it’s mor likely they just hate the people he abuses. Just as Bob cares little about the outcome of the case, he just hates Nichole Wallace, who is the culprit of all of W’s sins.
    More Trump related guilt in the Proud Boy’s case today. Relying on one MAGA doofus on the jury is looking like a long shot.

  12. Defund the Supreme Court.

  13. We live in a giant spiral galaxy.

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